Monday, November 21, 2005

Ich bin ein "Huber"

This piece from the LA Times makes me proud to be a German-American.
How U.S. Fell Under the Spell of 'Curveball'

The Iraqi informant's German handlers say they had told U.S. officials that his information was 'not proven,' and were shocked when President Bush and Colin L. Powell used it in key prewar speeches.

By Bob Drogin and John Goetz

Special to The Times

November 20, 2005

BERLIN — The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.

According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly secondhand and impossible to confirm.

"This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."

The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. "He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy," said a BND official who supervised the case. "He is not a completely normal person," agreed a BND analyst.

Curveball was the chief source of inaccurate prewar U.S. accusations that Baghdad had biological weapons, a commission appointed by Bush reported this year. The commission did not interview Curveball, who still insists his story was true, or the German officials who handled his case.

Ain't that just ironish?

No wonder the Germans didn't think invading Iraq was such a wunderbar idea.

And what's up with the administration's claim that "everybody else's" intelligence agreed with ours?

Looks to me like the Bush adminstration has yet another thing to erklären.


An old German great uncle once told me this about different breeds of dogs.

"If you throw a steak off a cliff, some dogs will jump after it. A German Shepard will not."


  1. The BND are good people. You don't know how I wish this administration would have listened to the Germans.

    Anyway, good blog. If you get a chance, I'd love to see what you think of the one I'm nursing along.

    -Angry Veteran

  2. Think any of that is CYA?

  3. CYA? Compared to the "It is what it is" kind of CYA?

    How CYA do the Germans need to be? They were right, and stayed out of the neocon plan.

  4. Gee, ya know, there's some accuracy in angry's comment about BND. Having spent some time in USAREUR in the very early 70s I had some periperal comtact with them.

    Do not be astonished if we hear more from them.

  5. Jeff:

    Maybe CYA is the wrong term. But it strikes me that it is pretty easy to say, after the fact, "Oh, we told them that all along." If they knew it and were so sure of it, why didn't they come out publicly during the lead up to the war and say this is why we aren't on-board. Or did they?

    I tend to think it was all politics all around during the lead up to the war. And anytime someone says, after the fact, that they knew such and such all along (but never said anything about it beforehand) I tend to be suspicious. Don't you?

  6. Not in this case, Scott. The trail of people saying "this ain't right" goes back a long way. And look what happened to everybody who tried to stand up and stop the train--they got run over.

  7. Jeff:

    Ok. That changes things, then. I didn't know if these guys had been speaking out from the beginning, but were ignored, or if (as it appeared) they'd just come of the woodwork now. If they've been saying this all along, then I'd like to know why what the admin said about the German intel is different (or exaggerated) when compared to what the Germans were actually saying (and of course, the answer is the admin wanted to build their case and didn't care if they had to misstate intelligence to do it).

  8. Scott,

    To clarify, I actually do suspect a certain amount of CYA is going on. But I suspect that much of what is coming out now has been kept "on ice" until the time was right to let it surface.

    Imagine the repercussions, for example, if the Germans had released this a year and a half ago.

    We may see a lot more of this kind of thing--"it's safe to come out now."

  9. All,

    There was incredible pressure on U.S allies to get on board with the invasion and occupation. When an ally refused, the pressure then focused on keeping the ally quiet. "If you don't want to join us, fine. But don't criticize us."

    And it wasn't just BND intel that was ignored. US intel was cherrypicked at the Pentagon. Folks at Langley were politely ignored.

    -Angry Veteran

  10. AV,

    For what it's worth, that's pretty much how I see it. I heard just enough of that kind of talk from CIA insiders to draw the same conclusion--both about the CIA and the foreign intelligence services.